Running with dogs prepares Revelstoke’s Barb Little for 55+ Games

Barb Little recently podiumed in the 55+Games in Coquitlam with a bronze and three silver metals in Track & Field.

Barb Little takes silver on the podium during this year's 55+ Games in Coquitlam.

By Barb Little

I recently came back from running in the 55+Games in Coquitlam with a bronze and three silver metals in Track & Field.

It was beyond thrilling to stand on the podium with a feisty bunch of strong, fit women who hadn’t seen 60 in a while! I was flummoxed at my wins as I had never run track and my only goal was not be last!

Credit must go to the dogs that trained with me over five decades of running and the Dirty Feet Trail Series that forced me out of my comfort zone.

Except for Charlie Brown, all the dogs were large, blond males. Ishie with-the-one-blue-eye, my first dog, was an extraordinary creature who set the bar high. He demanded long daily walks which morphed into hiking. He led me on my first trips up Abbot Ridge in Roger’s Pass and into Eva Lake, and taught me how to read his ears, tail and the hairs on his back that spoke of danger or the presence of others. When he died before his time, Bickford, a golden retriever cross, took his place.

Embracing the seventies’ aerobics frenzy I became addicted to endorphins and straight-to-the-brain shots of oxygen which led to running. Bickford became my running buddy and helped me train for the Jasper-Banff Relay when a 17-member team from Revelstoke’s Alpine Runners Club went in 1981. A habit by then, running had become a moving meditation and a powerful anti-depressant.

Still, on nasty, rainy days, Bick pushing his head under my hand begging to go out was the kick I needed. Our runs kept him healthy for 14 years.

Casey, a golden retriever, was the smart one. He quickly learned to stay left by my side and to stop at intersections. Born to run, he cranked things up as we went off leash and off piste looking for new terrain. He took me deep into the serenity of forests and along river trails. Together we worshipped in the church of the outdoors. His willingness to share his world while keeping me safe set in motion a lifetime love of running. Casey swam in or ran along the Columbia River with me almost every day for 13 years. It became his final resting place.

Now I run with my nine-year-old Buddha-boy Charlie, a chocolate lab. Serene and joyful, he welcomes all-comers into the dog walking business. Running with a posse of three or four dogs on secluded trails has been a game changer. Their antics are endlessly entertaining as they move like a school of fish surging over the terrain. No one runs off into the rhubarb. Still, running was again getting stale. When I discovered the Dirty Feet Trail Series,whole new landscapes and challenges opened up as Charlie and I ran park trails, through high grasslands and up mountains often resulting in falls and bloody knees.

I won my first 5-kilometre race at the Dirty Feet run in Revelstoke on Mount McPherson. This past summer I did six of their nine events taking first or second in all of them. Not because I was fast, heck no, but because there were so few gals in my age category 65 69. Nevertheless, I was ecstatic and something caught fire.

Pushing way out of my comfort zone, I set my sights on competing in the 55+Games in Coquitlam in September. Conceived to encourage seniors to keep active and fit, the Games offer more than 25 sports from cycling to golf, soccer, ball, swimming, tennis and more. They will be held in Vernon in 2017 and are open to anyone age 55 years and over.

I entered the Games on a lark and ended up medaling in the 5 and 10 km, 800 and 400 metres, and setting a personal best of 28 minutes for the 5 km. The months of running track and training were tough. Without the dogs nosing me out the door I would undoubtedly have given up.

Running has saved my life more than a few times. It has energized me, kept me young at heart, improved my agility, balance and stamina and, I believe, is helping push back the smog of Alzheimer’s that is beginning to nibble at me.

Next year I’ll be turning 70 and I can’t wait! The Goddess and good health willing, I plan on celebrating big time at a Women’s Wellness and Running Retreat in Moab in October 2017. I want to run the red rock dogless and unleashed!

Submitted by Barb J. Little, fourth generation Revelstokian, professional dog walker, retired journalist, skiing and running junky.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The city has launched a community well-being survey. (Submitted)
City launches community well-being survey

Everyone residing in Revelstoke aged 12 and over is invited to complete it

NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet on the campaign trail in Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap- Revelstoke Review)
BC VOTES: Q&A with BC NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet

Cherlet talks highways, housing, childcare and the environment

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Columbia River-Revelstoke Green Party candidate Samson Boyer. (Contributed)
BC VOTES: Q&A with BC Green Party candidate Samson Boyer

Boyer talks highways, housing, childcare and the environment

The Revelstoke Ski Club’s annual Ski Swap has been cancelled this year. (Marissa Tiel/ Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke ski club fundraisers moving online

Snowflake Wine Fest and the ski swap have been cancelled

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the emergency response centre operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. The fire displaced shelter residents who have been set up with services at the Vernon Recreation Complex. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Vernon shelter residents find refuge in hotels, motels, recreation complex after fire

Electrical fire at Turning Points Collaborative Society’s emergency response centre on 37th Street

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna man charged after allegedly stealing senior’s car

Elderly woman’s car was stolen while she was shopping

Salmon Arm RCMP say residents have been receiving calls from fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP warn of Publishers Clearing House telephone scam

Police say scammer requests fee to claim sweepstakes prizes

Osoyoos Fire Department responded to reports of a vehicle engulfed in flames Sunday (Oct. 18) evening at a Lambert Court residence. (Osoyoos Fire Department)
Osoyoos Fire Department knock down car fire near home

Blaze was ‘really close’ to becoming a structure fire

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels more Okanagan concerts

The Contenders and Colin James postponed until 2021

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Most Read